Chicken satay on lemongrass skewers

It’s hard to say where exactly satay – which means ‘three-times stacked’ – originated, as it’s a street food loved throughout Asia. This is the classic spicy, peanut-saucy version. Marinating the chicken overnight would be ideal. To save time, you can use store-bought natural/organic chunky peanut butter instead of blending your own.

Makes six

  • 4 (500g total) chicken breasts
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1t turmeric powder
  • ½t cumin powder
  • ¼t ground coriander
  • ¼t chilli flakes
  • ½t salt
  • 3T palm sugar
  • 6 lemongrass sticks, halved lengthways 
  • 3T vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup salted toasted peanuts, chopped
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks

For the sauce:

  • 1½ cups salted toasted peanuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 shallots, roughly chopped (or ½ red onion)
  • 1 red chilli, seeds removed
  • 3cm knob ginger, peeled
  • 3cm stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 2T palm sugar
  • 3T sunflower oil
  • ½ cup coconut milk

Cut the chicken into 3cm strips and place in a bowl. Add the garlic, spices, salt and sugar and mix well until the chicken is coated.

Place in the fridge for an hour (or overnight) to marinate.

Soak the lemongrass stalks in water for 15 minutes to prevent them burning.

Pierce a hole in each chicken strip with a strong bamboo skewer, then thread the chicken onto the lemongrass stalks.

Heat a griddle pan and brush with oil. In batches, grill the skewers for 5 minutes per side.

Prepare the satay sauce. Blend the peanuts until a paste forms, remove and set aside.

Add the garlic, shallots, chilli, ginger, lemongrass and palm sugar to the blender and pulse to a paste.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan and fry the spice paste until fragrant, about a minute.

Stir in coconut milk, followed by peanut paste. Cook for 5 minutes until thick.

Lay the skewers on a serving plate and scatter with cucumber and chopped peanuts. Serve the sauce on the side in a dipping bowl. 

Palm sugar is an authentic Thai ingredient, sold at Asian supermarkets. It comes in paste form (easier to measure out) or in soft rock-like chunks (just cut off what you need). If you can’t find it, use muscovado sugar instead.

Recipes and styling by Chiara Turilli. Image by Gareth van Nelson.

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